Maine Just Became The First State To Ban Styrofoam Boxes

Is your state next?

In an effort to curb environmental pollution, Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill this week prohibiting the use of food containers made from styrofoam. 

Styrofoam, also called polystyrene, can't be recycled in Maine. Advocates of the bill say its passage will protect the environment and reduce pollution. Opponents of the bill say it will put an undue burden on small businesses and does nothing to solve the "throw-away culture," according to The Portland Press Herald, a Maine newspaper.

"Maine has proven itself an environmental leader once again, this time in eliminating disposable foam containers that have become a common, costly, and deadly form of plastic pollution," Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), said in a statement.

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If someone violates the law, they could face a penalty of up to $100. Other states like New York and California have already passed bills that ban plastic bags. Maryland passed a bill to ban polystyrene, but Gov. Larry Hogan hasn't signed off on it yet, and it's unclear whether he will.

Environmentalists are particularly gung-ho about banning polystyrene because it often breaks down into much smaller pieces that are difficult to collect and throw away. Often times, they say, the non-biodegradable pieces will end up in bodies of water or cover the streets. 

The bill goes into effect in January of 2021 for restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and other similar businesses. Hospitals and Meals-on-Wheels providers will still be able to use polystyrene, The Portland Press Herald reported. 

"With the threats posed by plastic pollution becoming more apparent, costly, and even deadly to wildlife, we need to be doing everything possible to limit our use and better manage our single-use plastics — starting with eliminating the use of unnecessary forms like plastic foam," Lakeman said.

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